Why the Workforce Finds Some Job Transitions Undesirable

Job transitions are viable for employers and workers when relevant transferable skills are already in place and only minor reskilling or training is required.

Strategies for Job Transitions are key to reducing retrenchment and unemployment.

Viable and Desirable Job Transitions

Savvy HR practitioners must identify which positions are most threatened and how these workers can be productive elsewhere in the organisation.

However, not all opportunities are appealing to the workforce.

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When Are Job Transitions Viable?

A job transition is viable for employers when relevant transferable skills are already in place and only minor reskilling or training is required.

For workers, it’s most viable when the move increases wages and career opportunities.

If training is required for a new position and fails to increase wages, workers are less motivated to pursue this path.

If however age is a factor, perhaps reduced wages is coupled with less physical requirements which may then make the new job viable for a particular market segment.

According to the WEF report

“in order to be able to say that a job transition opportunity represents a viable job transition option, we require a pairing of a starting job and target job that involves:

(1) a medium or high level of job-fit and

(2) realistic leaps in expected years of education or work experience.”

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Undesirable Job Transitions

Within the full range of possible job transitions, there are a number of transitions that may be viable options but which are unlikely to represent sustainable or attractive options for the individuals having to change jobs.

Two key factors contribute extensively to desirability:

1. The long-term stability of the target job

Some theoretically viable job transitions are unsustainable and undesirable simply because the number of people projected to be employed in this job category is set to decline.

For example, the WEF report finds that in the medium term, a number of current occupations in the United States are forecast to shrink or fully disappear due to technological change.

In the WEF Report, researchers used US employment figures for 2016 and projections of expected employment change by 2026 from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

They used this data to identify job transitions that are undesirable due to declining target job numbers.

A move into a declining job field, unless the individuals are close to retirement, will not provide workers with the job security they require.

HR practitioners could consider age thresholds for different interventions and solutions.

This is not to limit workers, but to find solutions that could be viable, more appealing to different groups as opposed to a ‘one size fits all’ approach.

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2. Improving the Standard of Living

Even if the move to a new job opportunity appears viable,  its capacity to financially maintain or improve the standard of living to which the prospective job mover is currently accustomed to is crucial.

If they must drop their standard of living – they won’t be motivated.

Job transitions in which job movers experience a protracted fall in wages are unlikely to motivate further reskilling efforts or increases in productivity and job satisfaction by the individuals concerned.

Viable Job Transitions

In summary, according to the WEF Report, a viable job transition opportunity represents a desirable job transition option, when there’s a pairing of a starting job and target job that involves:

(1) stable long-term prospects, i.e. a job transition into an occupation with job numbers that are forecast not to decline; and

(2) wage continuity (or increases), i.e. a level of employee remuneration for tasks performed in the new job that does not fall below a level that would allow the individuals concerned to maintain their current standard of living.

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FAQ: Why the Workforce Finds Some Job Transitions Undesirable

1. Why do people find job transitions undesirable?

Job transitions can be undesirable for various reasons, including fear of the unknown, concern about financial stability, loss of familiar routines and relationships, and the stress of adapting to a new environment.

2. How do job transitions affect mental health?

Job transitions can impact mental health by causing stress, anxiety, and depression due to uncertainty, feelings of inadequacy, and pressure to perform in a new role.

3. What are some common challenges faced during job transitions?

Common challenges include adjusting to new responsibilities and expectations, building rapport with colleagues and supervisors, learning new skills, and managing the emotional toll of change.

4. How can employers support employees during job transitions?

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Employers can support employees by providing clear communication about the transition process, offering training and resources to aid in skill development, fostering a welcoming and inclusive work culture, and providing access to mental health support services.

5. What strategies can individuals use to cope with job transitions?

Strategies for coping with job transitions include seeking support from friends, family, or mentors, maintaining a positive mindset, setting realistic goals, focusing on self-care activities, and seeking professional guidance if needed.

6. What are the financial implications of job transitions?


Job transitions can impact finances due to potential changes in income, benefits, and relocation expenses.

Individuals need to assess their financial situation and develop a plan to manage any potential financial challenges during the transition period.

7. How long does it typically take to adjust to a new job?


The time it takes to adjust to a new job can vary depending on individual circumstances, the complexity of the role, and the level of support provided by the employer.

On average, it may take several weeks to several months to feel fully comfortable in a new position.

8. What are some signs that a job transition may not be going well?

Signs that a job transition may not be going well include persistent feelings of stress or anxiety, difficulty meeting job expectations, strained relationships with colleagues or supervisors, and a lack of satisfaction or fulfilment in the role.

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9. How can individuals overcome the fear of job transitions?

Overcoming the fear of job transitions involves acknowledging and accepting the uncertainty of change.

The focus is on the potential opportunities for growth and development, seeking support from trusted individuals, and maintaining a proactive approach to managing the transition process.

10. What are the long-term benefits of successfully navigating a job transition?

Successfully navigating a job transition can lead to personal and professional growth, increased job satisfaction, expanded career opportunities, and a greater sense of resilience and adaptability in the face of future challenges.

Reference: Job Transitions

Towards a Reskilling Revolution: A Future of Jobs for All: World Economic Forum, January 2018


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